Gaza, Israel and the 2023 War: Are There Any “Red Lines”?


Recorded  November 3, 2023

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Jamil Dakwar (Human Rights Lawyer & Adjunct Professor, New York University and Hunter College)

 Katherine Gallagher (Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional rights)

Dr. Raz Segal (Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Endowed Professor in the Study of Modern Genocide, Stockton University)

[affiliations for identification purposes only]

In conversation with Khaled Elgindy (MEI) and Lara Friedman (FMEP)

In the wake of the October 7, 2023 terrorist attacks by Hamas that killed some 1,400 Israelis and in which more than 200 Israeli civilians were taken as hostages to Gaza, the Biden Administration has offered unqualified, full-throated support for Israel’s “right to self-defense” in its more than 3-week-long military assault on the Gaza Strip, aimed ostensibly at “eradicating” Hamas and freeing Israeli hostages.

So far, Israel’s actions have killed more than 8,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are civilians and more than 3,200 of whom are children; damaged or destroyed an estimated 45% of homes and civilian infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip; and forced the internal displacement of more than 1.4 million people. Since the start of this war Israel has completely cut off food, water, fuel and medical supplies to Gaza and, of late, has blacked out communications to and from the Gaza Strip. Taken together, Israel’s actions have produced what UN officials describe as a “humanitarian catastrophe”; and have raised fears about ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Biden Administration has largely avoided laying down any clear markers or “red lines” that would limit Israel’s military conduct. This absence of “red lines” and apparent acquiescence to an Israeli military doctrine that absolves Israel of agency and responsibility for harming civilians raises profound questions regarding the human, moral, political and diplomatic costs of the current war, and of the legal and moral obligations of the U.S. and international community.


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Panelist Biographies

Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) is international human rights lawyer and expert. He is currently the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. Prior to joining the ACLU, he worked at Human Rights Watch and before moving to the United States, he was a senior attorney with Adalah (Justice), a leading Palestinian human rights group in Israel. In 2020, he was appointed as a member of the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He is also adjunct professor at New York University and Hunter College. He tweets @jdakwar. He will be speaking in his personal capacity and not as ACLU staff member.

Katherine Gallagher is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (@theCCR), where works on holding U.S. and foreign officials, and corporations, including private military contractors, accountable for serious human rights violations through domestic civil actions, criminal cases under universal jurisdiction laws and actions using human rights special procedures mechanisms. She has represented victims before the International Criminal Court, regarding sexual violence by Catholic Church officials; U.S. torture in the Situation of Afghanistan et al, and persecution by Israeli officials in the Situation of Palestine. Prior to joining CCR, she worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 2001-2006.

Dr. Raz Segal is Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Endowed Professor in the Study of Modern Genocide at Stockton University, where he also serves as director of the Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MAHG). He is also founder and co-coordinator of the Refugee Studies Initiative at Stockton. Focusing on central and southeast Europe, Dr. Segal is engaged in his work with the challenges of exploring the Holocaust as an integral part of late modern processes of imperial collapse, the formation and occasional de-formation of nation-states, and their devastating impact on the societies they sought — and still seek — to break and remake. Dr. Segal has held a Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lady Davis Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His publications include Genocide in the Carpathians: War, Social Breakdown, and Mass Violence, 1914-1945 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016; paperback 2020), and he was guest editor of the special issue on Genocide: Mass Violence and Cultural Erasure of Zmanim: A Historical Quarterly, vol. 138 (June 2018) (Hebrew). Dr. Segal has also published book reviews, op-eds, and larger articles on genocide, state violence, and memory politics in Hebrew and English in Haaretz and +972 Magazine.